I’ve been using SPD-compatible shoes for almost as long as Shimano has made SPD pedals.
But I spent a few years before the 1990 launch of Shimano Pedaling Dynamics riding clipless Look pedals.
In fact, I continued to ride Look two or three years after Shimano’s tiny two-bolt cleat hit the scene—for several reasons:
1. Look was singularly responsible for the Pythonesque death of the toe clip and strap. (I can hear the foot bondage apologists even now: “They’re not dead yet.”) As someone who remembers nailing cleats onto the soles of his shoes—by engaging the back plate of the pedals, the nailed cleat ensured the feet had no reasonable escape from strangulating toe straps—my gratitude belongs to Look.
2. Look was a road pedal. I was a road cyclist. Shimano introduced SPD to bring clipless technology to the mountain bike community, which was outside my scope of interest.
3. I had Look pedals, Look shoes, Look cleats and Look cleat covers; switching to SPDs would mean abandoning all the money I’d already sent to France.
4. I worried the SPD system would focus pressure on the soles of my feet, leading to painful hot spots (it did not).
Thirty years ago, the main appeal of SPD pedals for a roadie like me was walking to and from my bike without destroying the cleats on my shoes.
And in the end, that advantage was enough to get me to bolt mountain-bike pedals onto my road bike.
No more replacing cleat after cleat, cleat cover after cleat cover.
And no more carrying slippers on the bike so I could walk into a breakfast place like a regular person (a regular person wearing Spandex shorts, but you catch my drift).
I don’t always ride with SPD pedals—platform pedals and regular shoes have been doing fine for a couple hundred years—but I can’t imagine doing without them.
Or the walkable shoes that snap into them so effortlessly.
April 8. 16 miles.